1163-Article Text-2870-1-10-20171117.pdf - Children’s Rights Are Human Rights and Why Canadian Implementation Lags Behind Mona Paré Associate

1163-Article Text-2870-1-10-20171117.pdf - Children’s...

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Children’s Rights Are Human Rights and Why Canadian Implementation Lags Behind Mona Paré Associate Professor University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child [email protected] Abstract Child rights scholarship is increasingly calling for further theorization of children’s rights, and research using the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework is being criticized. This paper discusses children’s rights as a legal concept that is part of wider international human rights law. It recognizes the importance of critical studies and the contribution of other disciplines, but it makes a plea for not rejecting a legal reality. Children do have rights, and these are legal norms. The paper refers to Canadian practice as an example of how the lack of recognition of children’s rights as human rights can adversely affect the place of children in a country that is known for its respect for human rights. Keywords: Children’s rights, human rights, international law, theory, implementation
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2017 Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights 25 The existence and desirability of children’s rights have been debated for decades. While research since the 1990s has focussed on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), theoretical discussions have continued. In fact, these discussions have seen a resurgence in the past years, showing a willingness to detach children’s rights from law and from other human rights. This paper addresses children’s rights theory and sounds the alarm about the separate treatment of these rights outside the ambit of human rights. The paper discusses the concepts of children’s rights and human rights, situating children’s rights within international human rights law. It tackles critical theories of children’s rights within the larger framework of human rights. While calls for critical analysis are well received, sustained criticism regarding the lack of theorization around children’s rights can lead to a dangerous path, where relativism trumps the recognition of human dignity that lies at the basis of human rights protection. The paper’s main message is that children’s rights are human rights. There cannot be categories of human beings who are denied protection of their rights due to some of their characteristics. Such an approach is inherently discriminatory and would be met with an uproar if the group under scrutiny were women, immigrants or persons with disabilities, for example. Thus, the first part of the paper sheds light on the concept of children’s rights and responds to calls for critical analysis of child rights. The second part of this paper looks at the Canadian context, focussing on selected legislation, and judgments by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). Canada is a prime example of a jurisdiction that has not embraced children’s rights. It does not recognize children’s rights
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  • Fall '16
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